What do you think the biggest problem with our current education system (k-12) is? Why does it seem like the US is so "dumb" compared to other countries? What are we doing wrong?
What aspect of "our current education system"? Our universities are by far the best in the world.
Thanks for pointing that out, I was referring to our k-12 system! Our Post-Secondary system is great... but I would like to find the statistics that would show how many students are from other countries!
The problem with our k-12 lies in how it differs from our higher ed system.
Could you elaborate?
Because we are teaching six year-old and thirteen year-old and seventeen year-old kids and not adults who volunteer and PAY to go to a (still) public higher education institution?
If you don't mind my asking, what is your background in education?
I have been a teacher for nine years. Mostly English, Reading, etc. at middle schools, in a mostly urban county in central Florida. I received my BA from Florida State and I am currently working toward my Masters in Technology in Education
Why do you ask?
I am just curious about your perspective.
Mine has been developed and shaped by both my fathers discussion on the subject, referring back to the state of US education from 1950's through 1980's, and my personal perspective of teaching 19 year old "adults". I think our backgrounds differ significantly, but problems still similar.
How do you feel about standardized testing?
I think it is Ok for pure research data, but never to shape curriculum.
If we had developed the concept of standardized testing for the purpose of research, we would be, in my opinion, in a much better place today. However, since it was (also my opinion) developed to "grade" schools and teachers to establish some baseline for qualifying our educators to be "Highly Qualified" with the guise of leaving no child left behind, we have totally wasted a viable research tool. I think the results of the tests prove that we want to be successful, but we also want to keep our jobs.
Yes, having a teachers job security linked to national performance standards would have a chilling effect on independent thinking. I don't like it.
Exactly, but why, a nation as intelligent and progressive and ADVANCED as we are, do we have no acknowledgment of this fact, just platforms that politicians use as the rudimentary issues of our times, regurgitated term after term, only to be tossed into the background when they have the responsibility to do what they promised in the first place?
K-12 is free (more or less), obligatory, and run by governments and unions; two entities known for corruption and inefficiency.
Higher ed. is based on competition, innovation, and production.
Interesting topic & points.
I teach some post secondary courses as an adjunct professional, my father was a high school teacher. Lots of things have changed in the past 20 years.
I think our current system has gone way to far in trying to homogenize the experience of every student in the US. Personally, I think K-12 schools should be run much more like post secondary institutions; more instructor based curriculum development, more independent focus.
Some schools may fail or flounder, but most will prosper I think.
Choose a good school district; choose your own destiny.
I guess still being in school, the greatest problem I see is that if you don't like your teachers and professors you aren't going to learn anything from them. I've had some issues with some of my instructors and believe me, I took nothing away from their classes.
Another problem I see is that teachers, students, and occasionally parents do not trust one another. If the student feels like the teacher isn't respecting them, if they feel like the teacher isn't being totally honest about the material the student is not going to listen. If the student doesn't like the teacher, the parent typically isn't going to like them either.
Don't take this the wrong way, but you just need a little experience. Trust me, the second you give birth, your whole world and way of thinking will change.
You have hit the nail on the head, here. TRUST is huge. I can't figure out why I AUTOMATICALLY trusted my teachers. they didn't have to be cool, or even NICE! I just knew that they knew more than I did and I needed to listen to them and I would learn. Unfortunately, today, kids feel they are entitled to more respect. They are not accustomed to being told what to do... this seems to be the result of many different things, but when we took paddling out of the schools, schools lost their power. Now, teachers can't have power, that sounds bad! They have to try to be friends and establish trust before they can really teach.
The problem is that K-12 systems differ by town, city, region and state. I happen to live in a town where the public education is pretty darn good. But I would hate to be living in the neighboring town.
I agree! It's dependent on the funding, or the people in the district and their PERSONAL affiliations, or their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses too. There currently seems to be no BALANCE! Either the kids get the best of the best because of their demographics, or they suffer and they just get what they get!
It's been years and years and no one has come up with a workable solution. And that does not mean that the kids have to suffer for it. For six years and with kids in elementary, middle and high school, I lived in a state/town with probably the worst education in the country. Private/parochial schools had a 3+ year wait list, so we had to go it alone. There are ways for motivated kids to get into honors and AP classes, and a dedicated parent helping on off hours doesn't hold them back one bit. Matter of fact, I'd match my kids up to private-schooled kids any day of the week.
So, would you say our system suffers when the parents do not take an active role? You seem to be involved, but what happens when the parents are not and they just let the "system" teach their kids?
"..would you say our system suffers when the parents do not take an active role?"
Why would any decent parent let their child's education be completely left up to perfect strangers? The 'system' doesn't suffer when we don't take an active role. The kids do.
Hmm, good point.
this is really important.
Why indeed! But the fact is, parents don't have (or make) time to be involved and teachers have increasing amounts of pressure to maintain test scores so it does not reflect poorly on their ability to do their job, while those kids whose parents can't be bothered seem to be slowing down the flow and decreasing the level of energy and time a teacher has to care about quality education. But for most teachers, surrender is not an option. The question is, does anyone know how to increase parental involvement for the kids who are single-handedly creating chaos in the classroom? And the most demeaning issue facing a teacher: poor classroom management! So many teachers just ignore the problem because there is no solution!
I assume you're a teacher, and more power to you if you are. (Both of my daughters are entering teaching careers..)
But other parents who don't make time to be involved with their child's education is not my problem. Repeat - not my problem. I had 3 kids in elementary, middle and high school, was raising them by myself with no relief at any time, also caring for my elderly mom with Alzheimer's and working a high pressure job that required travel. And I still found the time. And even if the system wasn't broken, I still wouldn't leave my child's education completely up to others.
Yes, I am a teacher, not intending to get you upset or make you explain YOURSELF! If you were the problem, you wouldn't be answering this post!
I am curious why it is always so touchy. Why do we feel (me too!) like we are being accused of something? It is not YOUR problem what other parents do, but it is the problem of our collective nation, since it seems like we (parents - COLLECTIVELY) aren't doing enough... BUT
Is it possible that there is a "break-down" in our system BEFORE the problem gets to being the PARENTS' problem?
I wasn't upset or trying to explain myself. How is it a breakdown before it gets to the parents. It starts with parents and it ends there. Have no idea what you're talking about.
I am referring to "other" parents. NOT your concern, but I was hoping "others" would have additional insight! I am thrilled that you have been so candid with me, this is my first forum and I am happy to know I can find people who are willing to participate in these kinds of questions!
Like I said, I have two daughters who are entering the education field. One is a U of Florida graduate expecting twins in 8 days now! The other is getting set to start her internship after four years at Coastal Carolina Univ. My son is just starting college, and hopes to get into the social work field working with kids. And me? Would never make kids my profession. Go figure....
It appears you were cut out for it! Kudos! I appreciate your thoughts on this topic! Best Wishes!
Oh, and PS... I love your pup! I have two Doxies and they are my best buds!
So, Jon... our fate lies in the school districts we are enrolled in? I don't disagree. I wonder how we (US Officials) can idly sit by and let our powerful country slowly lose power... don't we have what we have because we were built on the premise that we manifest our own destiny? If that's the case, are we eventually going to manifest into a welfare-heavy economy? Or am I missing something? How will things just "get better"?
Well, I am not one to ever think things can just get better. I am not against active manipulation of our system of education on a national level, i just think it should be done through incentive programs rather than forced conformity.
Again, use standardized testing for research on the efficacy of an incentive program, but not to micro manage curriculum across the country.
This IS really important. 22 posts to this topic, but only four people... another example of the misguided focus!
I do not know what is wrong with the education system, but I do think that it is harder to raise a child with both parents working. Some may think it does not make a difference. It did in me when I was a child and my mother went to work. It was stressful for the kids to come home and try to cook and clean. I also think that money plays a role in these kinds of things...since schools cannot get the money they need, they cut things out. Parents do not have money to give their kids like they used to(not all of them). Parents may be really stressed out working all of the time and they cannot always put all of the time into their children too. Everyone seems to get stressed these days and it takes a toll on everything in the process, that leads to us eating wrong, not sleeping right etc....I could come up with more stuff like this all day long, but I will leave it at this then keep quiet.
Does anyone believe that a parent can do more than bring cupcakes these days?
The curriculum is so tied up in nationalized standards that school officials have little room to implement any good ideas or input that would in any way vary from the current course.
If anyone has a good suggestion for effective direct parent/school interaction, I am interested.
I have lots of suggestions, but none have to do with the teacher. I trust the teachers (although I do monitor what goes on) with basic education. And then I turned to a series of books called "What Every 1st Grader Needs to Know", "What Every 2nd Grader Needs to Know", etc. to give me guidance to fill in the gaps. I also turned to the Montessori system. It's not necessarily about teaching your child lessons by rote. It's about teaching your child to want to learn. They will figure it out from there.
Another excellent point... it's not what we are teaching, but that we are teaching students to want to know and how to find out for themselves. Curiosity is now a synonym for Nosy! So, kids don't want to ask questions because they think being nosy is rude.
Once they are on the right track, the rails will continue to take them to whatever direction they want to go, but the train can't run without the fuel to go "somewhere" Right?
Don't keep quiet! I would love to brainstorm all the reasons too! Money! Time! Yes and YES! But, here's my question... do the parents buy clothes at goodwill or Abercrombie/Hollister? Do they buy iPods and cool cell phones or do they just give the kid a quarter to use at a payphone?
Do the parents spend time reading notes from teachers, or getting mad when Johnny's grade is keeping him from some sporting event? Or do they have family dinners or KFC in the car, while listening to the radio and tuning each other out?
Are we using the resources to focus on the important things?
Thank you annvanns! Your ideas are excellent, I would love to know more!
Direct parent-school interaction:
1. Attend open house - with the kid present!
2. Know the schedule for interim reports and report cards, don't expect your kids to know (or tell you!)
3. Arrange meetings or phone calls with teachers, ask what your child is doing right! (If they aren't busy doing wrong!)
4. Find out if the teacher needs help, then volunteer YOUR CHILD'S time!
5. Get and KEEP e-mails for teachers (they are usually better at replying to e-mail than phones (especially when they don't have a phone in the classroom
6. Divorced parents, if possible, communicate with each other...
Lol, this is sooo funny. I wouldn't dream of doing anything close to this if I was a working mother, no way, just no way. Attending open house is a thing of the past. A meeting? - A working mother will probably be too tired.
Set aside some TV time or Novel time and make it happen.
I am going to.
I am so sorry you feel that way. How can we help working mothers have opportunities to meet with the teachers of their children? I mean, a meeting could be ONE meeting scheduled in advance or on a weekend... wouldn't it be nice if Employers were forced to give employees with children a day off every quarter (or whatever) to attend meetings for their children!? Wow! NOW THAT'S FUNNY!
IF there's any parent out there, divorced, married, working or not, that can't do these things (except #4 and #5) then they shouldn't be parents. Or they at least shouldn't expect their kids to be successful and then blame someone else.
You may be right, but hey...let them blame who they want and do what they want. I know it may make your job hard and it does make it your business in that respect, but live with it and do your best as a teacher and understand why people act like they do these days. If it is not your fault, dont worry about it. You do your part and if the parents want to do their part, they will. You see things differently since your job IS the teacher, and parents are probably working all day and coming home to a forum like this and wondering why the people they deal with at their job do things like this too.
Please re-read the previous posts. lrohner is not a teacher! She is a parent who invested her time and energy in spite of her stresses in her life to ensure her children were getting the best because she believed they only deserved the best. Children deserve the best (not just what their parents do - unless their parents ARE doing the BEST!)
Don't take this the wrong way, but I would not blame parents for have dinner at KFC while listening to the radio if both parents are tired of the #$&@ that can come with jobs these days. The parents can get home after listening to all the garbage and rush around at work, they are too tired to cook and listen to their children and answer questions. I also think that it is easier for a parent to go ahead and buy a child a cell phone then give them a quarter for a so called pay phone that probably is dangerous to use for health reasons and do not work 98% of the time. Some parents may feel it is easier to just get their child a cell phone than give them money to go out and party or do something dangerous too. Who knows about the cell phones and why parents buy them. I am sure they hope their child will be responsible with them. I just believe in only one parent working ...honestly, it is just too easy to do things this way. I think it would really help if one parent was working in the household. Sure, parents can both work and do these things, but don't tell me for one minute that burnout doesn't set in. I better shutup, lol
I am no mother and the reason is probably due to the fact I would be afraid of having a child and having to work. If I didnt have to work as a mother, I still would not have enough time to go to a meeting or attend open house, I would be busy cooking, cleaning and doing other things for the family. I see no need in going to open house meetings at school. My mother never went and I did not want her to go and waste her precious time on things like that when she had too much other stuff to do. Parents have enough to do, parents should start asking teachers to come to their house for meetings and take up their time.
Sure, you can say that, but until it is really put upon you, you would not know how hard it is to have a meeting sprung on you when you have a busy schedule.
Yes. It was put upon me. I raised 3 kids by myself, in a state with a crappy education system, with no family or child support in the offing, in a high stress corporate job that involved travel, and also taking care of my Mom in her 80's with Alzheimers. Yes. I've been there. And my kids' education (which loosely translated = their future) was top on my list.
Bottom line, yes. I can say that.
Get your priorities straight.
Didn't you say you are not a parent? And how can you be sure that I don't know what it feels like to have it "put upon me"? A scheduled meeting would not be sprung on you. It would be something you could plan for and around to take the imperative action of being an involved parent. Otherwise, as another poster stated, you are leaving their education completely to "total strangers".
Sure, but their education is in the hands of the teachers when you send them to school. Kids come home and cook for themselves and clean, then do hours of homework that should have been done in school while the teacher is too busy yelling at other students and sending them to the office. Teachers can spend hours a day dealing with problems and then fill the kids up with homework. I know that is not the teachers fault, but it does take a toll on the kids and parents who have to help the kids with homework that should be taught in school instead of at home.
Good Lord, Annvans. Have you had your fun yet? Get off the thread, please.
No, No and no. Why do you have to come in here and act like that?
Ok, please... I welcomed your input when it seemed to be mature and educated. Now, it is tiresome and insulting. Please find another thread to play with.
I am hoping there are people that can contribute to this discussion! I know it's important, and it might not be pretty. But it's only the future. If one child's education = their future, what does the education of the nation =?
Gladly, you asked...you got the truth and then got mad. This is typical and a fine example of what the problems could be.
I feel like the breakdown of the American Family structure has a lot to do with the disintegration of education here. When, both parents are working hard, it is difficult to get the kind of support that a child needs to do well in school. Of all the children that I have worked with the ones that were in the most trouble had parents to busy or disinterested to give them the support they needed.
I do not see anything major wrong with the education in my country.
Can you give me a few highlights of the structure of the system? What type of curriculum is used, how do they know when a student needs remediation? What are the strengths of the system? Are there strong communication methods and technologies used in informing parents? What about discipline?
I will try.
We have a state run system of education to tertiary level. Alongside that and partially funded we have a private school system and a religious school system both under the control of the Government. The curriculum is set for all by the education department, with safeguards built in to the system to assess children from early primary school right through to University.
Remedial schools are financed by government and churches.
The strength of our education system is in the relationship between the government, churches and private schools. Many scholarships are available through the Anglican and other churches, and you do not have to be involved in their religion. We have good laws in place to ensure equity between the three groups of schools, and funding is scrutinized publicly and through debate in government.Our Universities are not free, but the Government provides low interest loans to the students.
Poor children are well subsidized by the welfare programs we have, so every child can afford to go to school.Our system is not perfect, and I could go on about it, but suffice to say, if you are seeking a good education for your children, it can be found here.
I met parents of several countries but none who was praising their local school system, so this doesn't seem to be local US problem
I was not always happy with the quality of teaching for my kids, and neither were the kids. What can I do? Complaining and looking for arguments with schools and teachers doesn't help the kids.
If we parents don't take care to complement our kids' education as we deem necessary, who else will?
I found the story posed by pamdaman:
The Barometer Story
by Alexander Calandra - an article from Current Science, Teacher's Edition, 1964.
Some time ago, I received a call from a colleague who asked if I would be the referee on the grading of an examination question. It seemed that he was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed he should receive a perfect score and would do so if the system were not set up against the student. The instructor and the student agreed to submit this to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected.
The Barometer Problem
I went to my colleague's office and read the examination question, which was, "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer."
The student's answer was, "Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower the barometer to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building."
Now, this is a very interesting answer, but should the student get credit for it? I pointed out that the student really had a strong case for full credit, since he had answered the question completely and correctly. On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade for the student in his physics course. A high grade is supposed to certify that the student knows some physics, but the answer to the question did not confirm this. With this in mind, I suggested that the student have another try at answering the question. I was not surprised that my colleague agreed to this, but I was surprised that the student did.
Acting in terms of the agreement, I gave the student six minutes to answer the question, with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, since I had another class to take care of, but he said no, he was not giving up. He had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him, and asked him to please go on. In the next minute, he dashed off his answer, which was:
"Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then, using the formula S= 1/2 at^2, calculate the height of the building."
At this point, I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded and I gave the student almost full credit. In leaving my colleague's office, I recalled that the student had said he had other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were.
"Oh, yes," said the student. "There are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building, and by the use of simple proportion, determine the height of the building."
"Fine," I said. "And the others?"
"Yes," said the student. "There is a very basic measurement method that you will like. In this method, you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units. A very direct method.
"Of course, if you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of 'g' at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference between the two values of 'g', the height of the building can, in principle, be calculated."
Finally, he concluded, "If you don't limit me to physics solutions to this problem, there are many other answers, such as taking the barometer to the basement and knocking on the superintendent's door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: 'Dear Mr. Superintendent, here I have a very fine barometer. If you will tell me the height of this building, I will give you this barometer.'"
At this point, I asked the student if he really didn't know the answer to the problem. He admitted that he did, but that he was so fed up with college instructors trying to teach him how to think and to use critical thinking, instead of showing him the structure of the subject matter, that he decided to take off on what he regarded mostly as a sham.
Personally, I believe it is because of standardized testing and abstinence based sexual education.
Ooh! I like that last post! Abstinence-based Sex-Education! Anyone think this limits us? I think it makes kids laugh at the adults today. Yes, we have evolved into a less moral-based culture. But we are not practicing what we preach, so why should they listen?
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